Men’s basketball opens Juckem era with 91-62 win over Illinois College

Dorian DeBose | Senior Sports Editor

A new season began Saturday in the Francis Field House, but with an air of unfamiliarity: The Washington University men’s basketball team played its first game without former head coach Mark Edwards involved in 48 years. The Bears opened their season with a 91-62 win against Illinois College, new head coach Pat Juckem’s first since taking over for Edwards in May.

Sophomore Jack Nolan goes up for a layup around Illinois College defense in the Bears’ season opener. The first game of the season also marked the first game under new head coach Pat Juckem. Wash. U. defeated Illinois College 91-62 Saturday.Grace Bruton | Student Life

Sophomore Jack Nolan goes up for a layup around Illinois College defense in the Bears’ season opener. The first game of the season also marked the first game under new head coach Pat Juckem. Wash. U. defeated Illinois College 91-62 Saturday.

Despite the final score, Wash. U. struggled to put the game away until the second half. Sophomore guard Jack Nolan did his best—he knocked down three consecutive triples to force an Illinois College timeout with 7:14 left in the first. But the Blue Boys managed to stop the bleeding, not allowing the lead to expand for most of the remainder of the half. The Bears reached their largest lead of the half in the waning seconds when senior center Marcus Meyer converted a lay-up to push the margin to nine points.

Meyer had a solid night. He poured in 16 points and seven rebounds as well as a block. He was efficient at the charity stripe, converting all four of his free throws to points.

The Blue Boys clawed their way back to open the final half. They strung together a 10-2 run to cut the lead to one score. Up 44-42, Wash. U. began to pull away for what would be the last time. Junior center Hank Hunter pushed the lead to 46-42 and junior guard Matt Nester extended that lead with a three pointer on the next possession. Slowly, the Bears put distance between themselves and Illinois College. The Red and Green were aggressive on the boards and in transition, playing a fast-paced game that their opponent simply couldn’t keep up with. The barrage of putbacks and second chance points allowed the Bears to come away with a dominant victory.

Wash. U. ended the game with a 46-26 rebounding advantage. Much of the difference came on the offensive end, where the Bears built an 18-3 lead in offensive rebounds. Hunter snatched a game leading 10 boards in only 13 minutes. He also scored 14 points to achieve his first career double double.

Wash. U. rose to 1-0 with the win, while Illinois College fell to 0-2. Nolan looked poised to build upon his spectacular freshman season. The Downers Grove, Ill., native tallied a game-high 22 on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, counting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Joining him with double figures were Meyers, Hunter, Nester (14) and junior guard Jonathan Arenas. Arenas set his career high in points, assists (6) and rebounds (4) during the night.

Illinois College attempted to challenge the Bears from deep, but they never found the range. The Blue Boys were 7-for-23 from three-point range. This inefficiency, combined with their 17 turnovers, made contesting Wash. U. a difficulty.

Wash. U. plays its first road game of the season at Webster University on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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